The story of Jack and Bill, documented by Bourke Lee in “Death Valley Men” published in 1932, is one of discovery, loss, and betrayal. Later as the men would retell their story they would be both ridiculed until they showed the evidence they kept in tow. During their expedition they both had discovered a great trove of ancient treasure.
It all began when Bill toppled over and fell through an old mine shaft they had both been exploring while in the Wingate Pass area. As they ventured deeper into the shaft they discovered an incredible tomb of ancient giant mummies with large amounts of solid gold treasure. As they explored, they likewise discovered a natural gas system that had been set up to light the caverns, which would have illuminated a massive antechamber filled with gold statues, gold bars, and all types of precious gems cut by advanced tools. There were also allegedly incredible technological wonders, including stone carts that were light enough while on the track to be pushed with virtually no effort.
After they returned, they attempted to make contact with the Smithsonian Institute, so they could have the ancient culture scientifically analyzed and chronicled. Unfortunately, however, by the time scientists finally were summoned a friend of theirs had made off with the jewelry. The story seems like something straight out of a pulp novel, but unfortunately it was never verified conclusively. And the scientists involved, when the treasure never came up again soon showed disinterest and then eventually ridiculed the two friends for the story. As the duo was ostracized by the local community they stopped trying to tell people about the mysterious world they had visited.
The two had quite a bit of difficulty discovering the entrance to the cave they had found previously, as a massive storm passed through the area and changed the terrain for miles around. Trees were knocked over, piles of rubbish were blown in, and rocks tumbled after weathering thousands of years without moving. No doubt if the story the duo told was as believable as some said it was, then this storm alone was a massive coincidence. Lee lost contact with Jack and Bill after they moved away, and they were never able to mount another expedition to look for the cavern entrance again.
Interestingly enough, there were a number of legends in the area of the Shoshone Indians tell of an ancient race of people who lived beneath the Earth in the area around Death Valley, but no evidence of the strange culture belonging to the people was ever discovered. Still, perhaps the two had mistaken Egyptian motifs for Aztec ones. Could they have found one of the ancient ruins of an antediluvian society older than time? Or was this story coming from beneath the ground at the lowest point in the United States merely a tall tale? Perhaps in time another adventurer will come across this ancient lost formation and discover the untold riches both to archaeology and unfathomable treasures of gold. Until then, this story from Death Valley survives with each retelling.